STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Riley Shugg
by Marlee Moore, Junior/Agricultural Communications
Most college students don’t spend summer break baiting, cage diving and taking selfies with great white sharks off the coast of South Africa. Riley Shugg, senior in the animal sciences pre-vet track, is an exception.
Riley, a native of Flagler Beach, Florida, spent July as an intern with Oceans Research, a marine research organization in Mosselbaai, South Africa. As an intern, she collected data for institute projects and studied the movement and behavior of small species of sharks. Riley, who is minoring in fisheries, also spent days spotting and identifying Cetacea – whales and dolphins.
The day Riley snapped a shark selfie, her group set out at sunrise in Cheetah, their boat. Forty-five minutes offshore, they anchored down.
For two hours, Riley chummed, throwing bait juice overboard to attract sharks. When a shark approached Cheetah, the group baited rope with a tuna head, encouraging the shark to stick its fin, a source of identification, out of the water. The interns then took pictures of the fin, collected data on the shark’s facial markings and timed how long the shark was attracted to the bait.
Riley’s internship dealt mainly with research techniques, and the skills she learned in Auburn’s general science classes and labs, such as chemistry and organismal biology, made learning the fieldwork easier.
Between cage diving with sharks, watching as great white sharks stalked seals and staying at a bush camp, even Riley’s free time was interesting.
“While staying in the bush, we found a termite mound and actually snacked on a few. They taste minty!”
Before traveling to South Africa, Riley spent 13 days in Costa Rica with Vida Volunteers, a program that sets up temporary veterinary clinics in rural areas to spay and neuter animals for population control. Riley learned new surgical techniques, renewed her clinical veterinary knowledge and brought home an appreciation for the Costa Rican way of life.
Through the College of Agriculture’s study abroad scholarship program, Riley partially funded her trip to South Africa and said, “Without these opportunities, I wouldn’t have been able to further define my future.”
Riley originally came to Auburn to pursue a career in large animal medicine. Thanks to her experiences this summer, she now wants to practice veterinary medicine abroad and help underdeveloped nations adopt modern systems of animal health care.
Riley’s set to graduate in Spring 2015, and as the Pre-Veterinary Club president, an Ag Ambassador, a dairy hand at the vet school and a Supplemental Instruction leader in physics, her final semesters as an undergraduate will be jam-packed.
And that doesn’t take into account Saturdays in Jordan-Hare Stadium watching the eagle fly in pre-game festivities, Riley’s favorite Auburn tradition.
Riley’s experience in the College of Agriculture, specifically with faculty, has shown her how different this college is from others at Auburn. Friendly faculty members are genuinely interested in the student body and are always willing to point their students in the right direction.
“If you want to have the time of your life, make lasting friendships, all while getting an outstanding education, Auburn and the College of Ag are for you.”